FCC Proposes New Security Rules for Emergency Alerts

(Image credit: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay )

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As expected, the Federal Communications Commission has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that the agency believes will bolster the operational readiness and security of the nation’s public alert and warning systems, the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts.

The proposals closely mirror a draft proposal (opens in new tab) that was circulated prior to the FCC’s October 27 meeting when the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was approved. 

In the Notice, the Commission proposes to:

  • Protect against cyberattacks by requiring Emergency Alert System participants, such as broadcasters and cable providers, to report incidents of unauthorized access to their Emergency Alert System equipment to the Commission within 72 hours.  This would allow the Commission to work with participants and other government agencies to resolve an equipment compromise before it is exploited to send false alerts.
  • Promote security by requiring Emergency Alert System participants and the wireless providers that deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts to annually certify that they have a cybersecurity risk management plan and implement sufficient security measures for their alerting systems.
  • Guard against false alerts by requiring participating wireless providers to transmit sufficient authentication information to ensure that only valid alerts are displayed on consumer devices.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also seeks comment on the effectiveness of the agency’s current requirements for ensuring that Emergency Alert System equipment is ready to transmit alerts, and whether there are any alternative approaches that improve readiness, the FCC reported.

In addition, it refreshes the record on the Commission’s prior proposal to clarify that the agency’s Wireless Emergency Alert functionality requirements are not optional for wireless providers that voluntarily choose to deliver those alerts.

During the October 27 meeting the FCC also voted to launch a proceeding to explore repurposing up to 550 megahertz in the 12.7 to 13.25 GHz band (12.7 GHz band) for next-generation wireless services.  The FCC expects that this inquiry is the first step in providing for more intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band, unlocking a significant expanse of valuable mid-band frequencies that may play a key role in delivering on the promise of next-generation wireless services, including 5G, 6G, and beyond, the agency reported.  

In addition, the FCC proposed a plan to extend certain Universal Service Fund support to eligible mobile and fixed carriers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to ensure consumers have access to advanced telecommunications services in the face of hurricanes and other natural disasters. 

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.